The P.E.I. government plans to remove 300 jobs from its payroll in the upcoming budget, CBC News has learned, and hopes to cut most of those positions through attrition.
Premier Robert Ghiz has confirmed the downsizing is coming.
"While you may not love coming in and delivering a budget along these lines it's still your responsibility, and I take that responsibility very seriously," said Ghiz.
"I know there's going to be some bad days out there but this is about making sure that we protect a lot of the investments that we made over the last four years," in areas such as health care and education.
The cut represents about three per cent of the provincial government workforce. About 200 of those jobs will be eliminated this year.
Ghiz believes the impact on employees will be minimal, with most of the cuts coming through attrition, but he does admit some pink slips could be delivered.
"There will be less teachers, because there's going to be less students. So we'll keep the student/teacher ratios the same. There will be more people working in health care because that's where the demand is. And hopefully there will be less people working in the civil service," he said.
"So it's all going to balance itself out a little bit. But there will be less people in terms of full-time equivalents with government."
While Ghiz believes most affected employees will leave through retirement, he's not offering a special package to encourage people to go.
The province previously announced that 237 casual transportation workers won't be called back this year. An additional 270 full-time civil service positions will disappear.
But Finance Minister Wes Sheridan says only 35 people will actually lose their jobs.
Opposition demands details
Opposition leader Olive Crane demanded more information from the premier about the cuts during question period on Tuesday and again accused him of out of control spending.
She said Islanders want the government to reveal which provincial jobs and services are being cut.
"Now the thousand people that you are planning to let go, perhaps they would be your executive assistants? Are they your friends and supporters that you hired, in that pool of a thousand people?
"Or are they ordinary public servants? The ones that work as ward clerks, the people that work in liquor stores. Tell us premier, who are you actually firing?"
Ghiz reiterated that the number of affected positions is "in the 300 range," not 1,000, and that the majority would be handled through attrition.
"I implore on the leader of the Opposition, please do not make veiled threats in this legislature," he said. "It is not good to have misinformation and fear mongering, Madame Speaker."